M. Night Shyamalan Opens Up About Processing Bruce Willis’ Diagnosis
Knock at the Cabin director M. Night Shyamalan reflects on Bruce Willis’ aphasia diagnosis. The two have collaborated quite frequently on screen, starting with 1999’s The Sixth Sense, which propelled Shyamalan to stardom. They followed that film up with 2000’s Unbreakable, the first film in the Eastrail 177 trilogy, alongside Split and Glass. In 2022, Willis was diagnosed with aphasia, a condition that affects speech and comprehension, which caused him to retire from acting and from public life to spend time with his family.
Now, in an interview with THR, Shyamalan opens up about processing Willis’ diagnosis. He also talks about how Willis never treated him poorly on set and helped him navigate the studio system early on. Check out what Shyamalan said below:
Yeah, he obviously means the world to me. I would do anything for him and his family, and it’s been super tough for everybody involved. I had a lot of tears about it, and my father is also suffering from similar kinds of things. So having it on both fronts, it’s profound to realize how precious everything is. So I’m just grateful for what he did because he didn’t micromanage at all. He protected me from the system early, so I’m forever grateful to him.
Bruce Willis & M. Night Shyamalan’s Collaborations Are Iconic
The Sixth Sense is highly-regarded as Shyamalan’s best film and was nominated for six Academy Awards, including Best Picture. The movie served as Shyamalan’s first imprint in Hollywood, helping him become known as a subversive filmmaker who liked to have surprise twists at the end of his movies. With Willis’ Crowe revealed to be a ghost all along throughout The Sixth Sense, the turn of events shocked audiences so much that Shyamalan was quickly dubbed « The Next Spielberg. »
Willis’ next collaborations with Shyamalan are also iconic in their own right. After Unbreakable became a cult hit through home video sales, Shyamalan continued his trilogy many years later with Split, which solidified Shyamalan’s comeback after a series of critical and commercial duds. Willis surprised audiences at the tail end of Split as his character Dunn, revealing that the movie was connected to Unbreakable. This led to the end of the trilogy, Glass, which performed well at the box office even amidst the mixed critical reception it received.
It could be argued that all of Shyamalan’s best-known films star Willis, who the actor championed early on in his career as a filmmaker. It’s primarily because of his collaborations with Willis that Shyamalan has had a successful career in Hollywood, even if some of his movies weren’t as well-received as others. However, there’s no denying that The Sixth Sense contains one of the most surprising twist endings in movie history, and Unbreakable pioneered the superhero movie genre by turning tropes on their head, alongside one of Willis’ best-ever performances. As Knock at the Cabin prepares for release, it’s interesting to think of where Shyamalan’s career started and how it evolved from there.